By M.H. Dyer

Delicious, juicy strawberries are one of the sweet delights of the summer season, and home grown strawberries are best of all. For gardeners short on growing space, planting strawberries in hanging baskets is a workable alternative, as long as you have a place where the plants will get plenty of bright sunlight. As an added benefit, the berries will be within easy reach for picking but will be out of reach of slugs and most other strawberry-loving pests.

Purchase ever-bearing strawberries such as Ogallala or Ozark Beauty or day-neutral strawberries such as Tristar or Tribute. Ever-bearing plants will produce twice during the season. Day-neutral plants will bloom and produce throughout the summer.

Fill a hanging basket two-thirds full with a mixture of one part peat moss or compost, one part sand and two parts regular garden soil. Mix a light application of a general-purpose granular fertilizer into the soil. Read the directions on the fertilizer container for specific rates of application.

Use your hands to create a small hill for each strawberry plant, allowing 6 to 8 inches between each plant. Place a strawberry plant on top of the hill and spread the roots over the sides of the hill.

Add enough planting mixture to cover the top of the mounds. Don’t cover the crowns of the plants, which is where the stems of the plants join the roots. Strawberry plants planted too deeply are in danger of rotting.

Water the strawberry plants immediately after planting. Water enough for the water to drain through the bottom of the pot. Don’t water again until the top inch of the soil is dry. During hot weather, check the strawberries every day as hanging containers can dry quickly.

Place the hanging basket where the strawberries will be exposed to bright sunlight for at least eight hours every day.